Sirens and Lights: Pull to the Right

Pull to the Right for Sirens and Lights

Every day, emergency vehicles respond to urgent requests for service from the public. The call may be for Fire, EMS or Police. Minimum response time by emergency services is absolutely essential since minutes lost during our response to an emergency could be the difference between a favorable or tragic outcome. It is our desire to see response time for Emergency Services minimized. To accomplish this, sophisticated communications systems are in place, emergency vehicles are appropriately equipped, and training of Emergency Responders is ongoing.

Still, the biggest problem is getting emergency vehicles to the scene of an emergency safely, especially in urban traffic and during peak traffic periods. All drivers must know their responsibilities when approached by an emergency vehicle with its red lights flashing or siren sounding.
The Ohio Motor Vehicle Law clearly states what a driver is required to do:

4511.45 Right-of-way of public safety vehicles

Upon the approach of a public safety vehicle, equipped with at least one flashing, rotation or oscillating light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet to the front of such vehicle and the driver is giving audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or bell, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right of way, immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection, and stop and remain in such position until the public safety vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
Our agency spends considerable money on sophisticated warning devices for our apparatus. Sirens can be difficult to hear (no matter how loud they are) when drivers are using their radio, AC or Heater fans, talking with passengers or on cell phones, etc. Some motorists don't bother clearing windows in bad weather - which is like driving blindfolded.

Good drivers always check their mirrors frequently, and do everything necessary to maintain an awareness of other vehicles in their vicinity !

Our members train regularly on safe driving practices. Emergency vehicles will usually try and pass to the left since you should be pulling to the right. However, distracted drivers, or those blocking intersections or roadways may negate that possibility.

Motorists can help us reach those in need by being attentive and pulling to the right when an Emergency Vehicle approaches.